New York Giants vs. Minnesota Vikings Preview and Pick – Point Spread

New York Giants (8-7 SU, 6-8-1 ATS) vs. Minnesota Vikings (11-4 SU,
8-6-1 ATS), NFL Week 17, 1:00 p.m. EST, Sunday, January 3, 2010, Hubert H.
Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis, Minn., TV: FOX

by Badger of

Point Spread: Giants +9/Vikings -9
Over/Under: 48

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A week ago the New York Giants trip to the Metrodome to play the Minnesota Vikings in the season finale looked like it was going to mean the world to the Giants and little or nothing to the Vikings.

But this is the NFL and in the words of former Atlanta coach Jerry
Glanville, it stands for not for long, because now the tables have
turned and its actually the Vikings that face a near must-win
situation in the finale.

Suddenly the Vikings arent the for-sure No. 2 seed from the NFC like everyone believed they were a few months ago. Minnesota has now lost
three of their last four games including another stunner on national
television to the Bears Monday, 36-30, Adrian Peterson has suddenly
become stoppable and the Vikings need to win Sunday to earn the first
round bye and homefield advantage they thought they had locked up a
month ago.

With their season flushed down the toilet with a 41-9 loss at home to Carolina last week, the biggest question surrounding the Giants is
whether or not theyll be motivated to play hard against the Vikings
Sunday, or just collect their last gameday paycheck and hit the beach.

It took a couple of extra days for the oddsmakers out in Las Vegas to
release a point spread for this game, but after the extra
deliberations they finally opened the game with the Vikings as large
9-point favorites at home. A few offshore sportsbooks have it at 8.5
on their boards, and youll even find a few 9.5’s as well, as
oddsmakers also seem to be questioning the level of motivation on the
Giants sideline.

The over/under total opened at 48 at most books, but there are a few 47.5s if you want the hook.

For a team that says all the right things, admitting that they need
to get Peterson back as the focal point of the offense, the Vikings
arent exactly accomplishing that objective. During the past four
games A.P. has been held in check, without a 100-yard effort and just
a 3.2 yards per carry average.

Minnesotas offense has found themselves behind on the scoreboard so often lately that theyve been forced to rely on Brett Favre and the passing game too soon in games, abandoning the run quickly and making
A.P. an afterthought.

The biggest reason the Vikings are behind on the scoreboard is because the defense has gone AWOL during the three game slide, giving
up and average of 30.6 points per game in the three losses. Jared
has been held sackless, the run defense is not as strong
without middle linebacker E.J. Henderson, and corner Antoine Winfield
is clearly not the shutdown corner he was prior to his broken foot.

The Vikings defense will need to put together a complete effort on
Sunday in order to get momentum back, and the Giants just might be
the perfect team to do it against on Sunday.

The G-men offense was manhandled by the Panther last week, giving up
four sacks, two interceptions and two fumbles. Behind 31-0 before
some people made it to their seats, the Giants offense was just going
through the motions last week when they were playing for their
playoff lives, so its hard to think theyll do better this week with
nothing on the line except pride.

The Giants season overall is best typified by defensive end Osi

Umenyiora is a former All-Pro end that, for some reason, doesnt look like he wants to play hard anymore. Benched on running downs a few weeks ago because he kept getting used by bigger, stronger offensive
tackles, Umenyiora played only a handful of snaps against the
Panthers and their 48 running plays. Now hes spouting off to the New
York media about how he wants out and cant wait for the season to end.

These two met in the season finale last year, a 20-19 win for the
Vikings at home in the Metrodome, but thats comparing apples to
oranges this year. The Vikings have won three straight going back to
2005, covering two of the three games as well.

Neither team has been good to bettors lately, with the Giants failing to cover in eight of their last 10 games overall and the Vikings failing to cover the point spread in all three of their losses.

But the Giants are 11-3 ATS in their last 14 games as the underdog,
and 20-6 ATS in their last 26 games on the road too. They are also a
perfect 4-0 ATS in their last four visits to the Metrodome, and the
underdog is a perfect 5-0 ATS in the last five head-to-head meetings.

Badgers Pick: The Vikings will be playing for the right to host a few games in the playoffs, so I expect them to come out with a little
fire in their bellies on Sunday. The Giants have been so hot and cold
all year that I dont know what to think about them anymore. Without
the worry of outside conditions both offenses should have a day, so
Im taking the over of 48.